Did you know I had a baby at the end of January?
The pregnancy was a rough one. I’ve never had easy pregnancies. With each one I have suffered:
– Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance)
– Gestational Diabetes (controlled by diet)
– Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (which causes severe itching)
With this pregnancy, I had all of those conditions, plus frequent contractions that were not Braxton Hicks. These were painful contractions that reminded me of how I felt the day I suffered a Placental Abruption, and underwent a medical emergency. Thanks be to God, my son and I survived that experience.
I was not officially put on bed rest by my doctor, but he recommended that I rest on my left side when the contractions would act up. Since it happened just about everyday from 13 weeks onward, I would have to force myself to go lie down and hydrate. I was put on bed rest with my first child, with a diagnosis of Placenta Previa (when the placenta covers the cervix), so I knew the challenges of bed rest well.
I’m glad that I listened to the cues and rested as much as possible (as much as you can with 5 young children). Turns out, I had a uterine dehiscence (or incomplete uterine scar rupture). My bladder adhered to the dehiscence, but both bladder and uterus completely ruptured upon the first incision during the cesarean.
Here are my best tips on how to survive bed rest:
1. Set up camp. Gather things you need. Clicker, tablet, books, puzzles, water bottle, phone, notebook and paper, crafts you’ve been meaning to make. With my first bed rest experience, I would look forward to watching Judge Judy everyday. My days centered around particular routines that would take my mind off of feeling stuck in the bed. I had my own little world set up nearby, and everything within reach.
2. Acknowledge your feelings. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. No one prepared me for the range of feelings during bed rest. At any given time, I could feel inconvenienced, frustrated, irritated, worried, hopeless, helpless, and sometimes depressed. A whole range of emotions would creep in.
I highly recommend staying away from anything negative on the television, or any negative articles on the Internet. I would find myself weeping over the news, or from the beautiful births on TLC’s Baby Story. Anything upsetting, I had to avoid completely, as it only plunged me deeper into feeling bad.
3. Ask for help. If someone offers to help, take them up on it! Can anyone deliver a meal, or come over to do a few loads of laundry? Is your husband able to take over a task? Also, don’t discount help from your children. Even small children can help fetch items, or put socks in a drawer. My four year old wields a mean dustpan and brush.
4. Let go. Let go of the idea of perfection. Let go of the desire to dust, organize or clean the house. Let go of what you feel you “should” be doing. Let go of any guilt of having others help.
5. Let God. By that I mean, make an act of trust and hope. Give this temporary situation over to the Lord. Offer your condition to Him, uniting your suffering to His. Ask Him to use all the ups and downs for someone who needs it, and for the little one growing inside. Letting go, and letting God go hand-in-hand. It is a continual process that needs to be renewed over and over again.
6. Grow your patience. Everything about pregnancy and labor is an exercise patience. I am NOT a patient person! I truly believe that is why I’m given so many opportunities to practice. Paired with hope, you will get through the difficult days of bed rest.
7. Exercise in bed. How so? I highly recommend that you speak to your doctor first, and be sure it is okay for your condition. However, I did neck rolls, arm lifts, arm curls, shoulder rolls, kegels, ankle circles, and flexing my feet.
8. Stay Hydrated. Being in bed all the time can really slow down the digestive system. If you are taking iron, it can become troublesome. Hydration is important during any pregnancy, but even more important to overall well-being on bed rest. Add lemon if you must, and keep sipping all day long.
9. Spend time with your children. Believe it or not, it is possible thrive on bed rest with young children around. I was able to have my children complete their homeschool lessons in and around my bed. We read numerous books, watched documentaries, even completed a few low-key crafts. I had a little table near my bed for writing, and for the toddler to play on. Snuggle with your children and read stories. Have picnics in bed! Who says bed rest can’t be fun?
10. Reach out. Check out the website Sidelines National Support Network. They are dedicated to supporting mothers and their families during difficult pregnancies. They offer a large amount of articles and information for high-risk mothers. Sidelines also has a group of volunteers that can lend free support via phone calls or emails.
11. Let the Internet work for you. Order groceries, baby supplies, and books to read without ever having to leave the house. Earn a little money or gift cards online with programs such as Swag Bucks. Play games on Facebook, chat with friends, or start researching your family history. Blog about something that interests you, or about your experiences. There is so much you can do using the power of the Internet.
It has been a long recovery from this birth. My uterus had to be rebuilt along with my bladder, and a glamorous foley catheter had to be kept in place for many days afterward. I dubbed it: my ball and chain. *grin* There were other complications, yet, after 5 months of healing, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.
Your turn! Have you ever been on bed rest? What did you find helpful?